SYDNEY, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Australian runner Peter Bol, who rose to prominence at the Tokyo Olympics, has tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Athletics Australia on Friday confirmed that Bol's A sample from an out-of-competition doping control test on October 11 last year had returned an adverse analytical finding and he has been provisionally suspended from training and competitions.
"Learning about this adverse analytical finding was both extremely concerning and completely out of the blue, and we will support Sport Integrity Australia who are leading the investigation into the matter," said Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer Peter Bromley.
Bol finished fourth in the 800m final at the Tokyo Olympics. He also became the first Australian to qualify for the men's Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won the gold in the event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
He was informed by both Sport Integrity Australia and Athletics Australia of the finding earlier this month, when the suspension took effect simultaneously, but the 28-year-old runner asserted his innocence.
"It is critically important to convey with the strongest conviction that I am innocent and have not taken this substance as I am accused. I ask that everyone in Australia believe me and let the process play out," Bol said in a statement on Friday.
"When I found out last week that the A Sample from a urine test taken on October 11 had tested positive for a synthetic erythropoietin (EPO) I was in total shock," he added.
Under the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy, athletes are entitled to have their B Sample analyzed. They are also entitled to a fair hearing process to determine whether or not an anti-doping rule violation has been committed and, if so, the appropriate consequences.
"The welfare of our athletes remains critical through this process, and we will continue to do all that is appropriate to ensure both Peter and other athletes, coaches and support staff are provided with the necessary support," said Bromley.